[TW: Pregnancy, Miscarriage, Abortion]
On 26 May 2018, I sat checking my phone as I waited for the result of Ireland’s abortion referendum. I am pro-choice, and at Nopebook HQ, we had a fundraising campaign in place knowing that, whatever the result, the law wouldn’t change immediately. Knowing that Irish people would still need to access safe and legal abortions in the UK. Knowing that they would need help covering the ensuing costs.
We had been campaigning for our Irish siblings, and we were nervous.
The result came in.
Yes. Repeal. They bloody well did it.
I cried. It felt like the first political victory in far too long.
On 26 May 2018, I was, unknowingly, 6 weeks pregnant.
My husband and I had been trying to conceive for two years, and in that time we’d learned that I wasn’t ovulating regularly. My fertility doctor suggested some options but has since moved out of the country. I’ve been waiting on a new one since March.
I had also started muting anyone I followed on social media that announced a pregnancy. I hid baby photos. I am incredibly lucky, this much I know. I’m loved, I have a home, I have a job I love. For all intents and purposes, life is going great. But this thing, this one thing I wanted so much, was slipping further out of reach. And seeing others get it was verging on unbearable.
A week or so after the referendum, I decided to use the last of my pregnancy tests. Being so irregular means I never really know when to take them, but it had been a while so I thought it was worth checking.
And there it was.
That line I’d been straining to see for so long. Holding strips up to the light and squinting, asking my husband if he saw anything, only to give up and throw it away. Keep trying. Keep hoping.
There it was.
I’d spent the previous two years wondering how I’d react when I saw that line, and now I knew. Shock, joy, disbelief.
Another three weeks passed, and my period started. And continued. And on it went for a second week. And then a third.
“I’m sad that my pregnancy didn’t work out. But I’m also glad that she had the option to end hers.”
A visit to the GP. A follow up with the ‘early pregnancy unit’ where I got to share a waiting room with joyful expectant couples, even sharing a lift with a woman who was in labour, about to meet her child while mine disappeared.
A chorus of “it’s more common than you think” and “it usually means the foetus wasn’t viable” accompanied by the harmonic sympathy of those I chose to tell.
A few more weeks passed, the bleeding stopped, I went back to work and everything went back to normal.
I visited a friend who, over drinks, informed me that she was pregnant, and that she didn’t want to be.
I am pro-choice, and I have been since I was 17. My family are, too, and pretty open about it. It’s something I’ve always felt I could speak easily and confidently about.
But I was floored. I asked follow up questions, I listened and I tried not equate her situation with mine but honestly – how could I not?
She had her appointment the following week. She has moved to her new flat, ready to start her Masters. I’m still waiting to meet my new fertility doctor. Neither of us are pregnant.
And sure, I’m sad that my pregnancy didn’t work out. But I’m also glad that she had the option to end hers.
I have plans for my life, and I’m doing what I can to follow them. Just as she now gets to follow hers.
I have spent a long time seeing doctors, crying over baby names, and going out of my way to avoid walking past Mothercare. And I have spent a long time trying to balance that longing and that hurt with the ardent pro-choice beliefs I’ve held since I was a teenager.
When really, it is as simple as reading the name.
It’s a choice. I choose to try and have kids. She chose not to. There’s nothing more to it.
You can have children and be pro-choice, you can want children and be pro-choice. You can want children, be pro-choice, and have an abortion if it’s the wrong time, the wrong situation, or you’re just not ready.
I cried when I heard the results of the abortion referendum, not with sadness or with grief. Not because I thought of all the women giving up something I wanted. But because it showed that, little by little, maybe we’re starting to trust pregnant people with their own bodies. Maybe, just maybe, we’re starting to put existing lives over potential ones.
To ask someone to grow a human being in their body, to put their lives and their minds and their bodies at risk, to go through excruciating pain and then look after that person for the rest of their lives is an enormous thing to do. It’s life changing, and it’s terrifying – and that’s coming from someone who is actively trying to do it.
Imagine facing all of that, and knowing that the end result is something you don’t want. Imagine having no choice. Imagine having no way out of that situation.
I believe that pregnant people should have dominion over their health. That bodily autonomy is a human right. Just as I would choose to be pregnant, I would never take away another’s choice not to be.
To equivalate my experience with that of someone who has had an abortion is inaccurate, inhumane, and downright unacceptable.